In 1829, a large number of cotters were evicted from their run-rig farms on the Redcastle estate on the Black Isle. Allegedly this was done in order to create larger, more efficient ones run by factors. However, an indebtedness towards Colin Mackenzie of Kilcoy is suggested. Apparently the clearances upon this 3795-acre estate were peaceful. In spite of the depopulation of his Redcastle estate in the Parish of Killearnan, he made an effort to resettle many families on his Kilcoy estate and some properties in the neighbouring Parish of Knockbain. Indeed, he had most generously encouraged strangers, who had been expelled from various parts of the Highlands, to settle on his portion of the late Mill-Bui commonty and on other woodlands on his property of Tore. He generously offered five pounds Stirling for every Scots acre improved and a very liberal rent-free grant of such lands during the balance of the leases covering nineteen to twenty-one years. Cleared lands were rented at up to two pounds per acre.
William Young was born on April 6, 1806, to parents Roderick Young and Helen Davison. In 1838, William Young could afford a small tract of land at Drumsmittal, Parish of Killearnan, on the Black Isle. He met Isabella Ross (born in March of 1821) whose family had resettled on an eighteen acre site at the Shore of the Drynie Estate, Parish of Knockbain, on the Black Isle. William Young and Isabella Ross were married on January 7, 1842.
During the Crimean War (1853 - 1856), the supply ships continued to arrive from Canada, only to return with their hold packed with emigrants. Nor was the mail halted, as the schedules of the mail ships to and from the Port of Quebec were regularly published in newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic. Details of four prior emigrations involving members of the Ross family at 'Redhas' on the Shore of Drynie above Kilmuir on the Black Isle were known. The resettlement in Scott Township of Ontario County and the land sales in Minto Township of Wellington County were read over and over. Insofar as we are aware, none of these letters survive to the present day, but we may be assured that 4,000 miles and high postal rates did not prevent either group from maintaining contact. Highlights of family news, good and bad, were undoubtedly exchanged, and it would take little imagination to list the topics of such letters.
As the Crimean War ended, serious thought was being given to the fifth, and largest, Ross family exodus. On May 4th, 1857, William Young was given a recommendation signed by James Cameron, Factor for Kilcoy, which stated that William had 'occupied a possession' at Drumsmittal for nineteen years under his management.
When the Young family was making plans to go to Canada, the parents of Isabella Ross, Alexander Ross and Margaret Noble, were going to be so lonely that they left their second daughter Margaret (born September 4, 1845) with her grandparents. She and they, with her aunt Catharine Ross, emigrated three years later, this being the balance of a ten year extension on their original twenty-one year lease.
Isabella's younger brother Roderick arranged a hasty elopement with his sweetheart, Christy Junor, and they joined the departing family of William Young and Isabella Ross [with their children: Helen (born January 12, 1843), Roderick (born January 9, 1848), Isabella (born February 13, 1850), and Elizabeth (born October 18, 1853)]. This wave of emigrants proceeded to Glasgow by way of the Caledonian Canal, obtained passport certificates at Murray's Emigration Office, and booked passage at the docks.
There is a family tale in the branch of Roderick Ross and Christy Junor that Roderick was working as an expert with horses on the estate of a Cameron "laird", and jilted another girl when he eloped with Christy (who was slightly over two months pregnant at the time). The jilted girl's parents caught up with him at the docks in Glasgow and descended like a swarm of angry hornets, taking all of his worldly goods and possessions. Roderick and Christy were then allowed to board the ship.
On May 19th, 1857, our kinfolk were among the 500 passengers who sailed aboard the 904-ton ship called "John McKenzie". This sailing vessel had been built in Nova Scotia in the year 1846 for Stewart and Company of the Port of Greenock, where the ship was registered. Prior to this voyage, the ship's captain, Master Blennerhasset, sailed into Clyde (the Port of Glasgow) from New Orleans on April 11th, 1857. The "John McKenzie", after a five-week voyage, finally arrived at the Port of Quebec on June 25th, and all passengers disembarked at the Customs Sheds. The ship sailed for Clyde once again on August 3rd, 1857.
After making their way through the immigration sheds at Quebec, most passengers were subsequently transferred to two smaller craft for the remaining trip to the Port of Montreal, where they could make connections with lake-steamers if their destination was Ontario (Canada West / Upper Canada) or beyond.
Our kin, however, did not take this customary route because Isabella Ross was expecting her sixth child and a train trip on the recently constructed Grand Trunk Railway was naturally more appealing than the prospects of further transportation by water. Evidently, Roderick Ross (aware of his own wife's pregnancy) came up with some well-hidden cash and said, "If the Youngs can afford to take the train, so can we."
Before Montreal was reached, our families had good reason to consider their fortunate choice of transportation. They learned that one of the small craft was destroyed by fire on the St. Lawrence River. Of all passengers, only one twelve-year-old boy was saved from burning or drowning. Surnamed "Douglas", his daughter would later marry Dr. John A. Bell who was the family doctor of the Youngs when they resettled in Sarnia, Ontario, many years later. Meanwhile, the train proceeded without incident to the GTR station at Whitby, Ontario, and the families headed north by dirt trails to the first Ross family homesteads in Scott Township.
Colin Davison Young, the sixth child of Isabella Ross and William Young, was born in the log cabin of Alexander Ross and Janet "Jessie" Fraser on July 21st, 1857, almost one month after their arrival in Scott Township.
Margaret Ann Ross, daughter of Roderick Ross and Christy Junor, was born on December 4th, 1857, in the log cabin of Donald Ross and Mary Ann Madill. [Donald had just purchased the western half of older brother Alexander Ross’s 200-acre plot during the previous year.] Margaret Ann Ross was baptized on February 1st, 1858, by Reverend William Cleland of the Quaker Hill Church.
Helen Young, while celebrating her ninetieth birthday, delighted in telling about her family's trek to Minto Township of Wellington County, Ontario. "My father and I walked from Scott Township, east of Toronto, to Minto Township in Wellington County, near Guelph. The trip required about five days tramping through the bush by way of Newmarket, Orangeville and Fergus. There were no roads and the journey was more tedious because my father took along a cow." [A silent Gaelic "H" explains the Canadian records in which her name was entered as "Ellen".]
When the daughter (Margaret Young), who had been left with her grandparents, arrived three years later, she complained "that she couldn't run and play with other children on the ship because they had sewn gold coins in the seams of her skirts which weighed her down".
WITH A COW IN TOW
- Dinon, T. M., Librarian, Lloyd’s of London. Reply and documents sent on March 2, 1978.
- KILLEARNAN CHURCH REGISTER. Records of Births and Baptisms from 1744 on. General Register House, Edinburgh.
- Kennedy, Mr. & Mrs. Melvin. "Records from the Quaker Hill Presbyterian Church", Uxbridge, Ontario. Letters received August 3rd and October 3rd, 1977, in response to requests for data.
- Prebble, John. LION IN THE NORTH. London: Martin Secker & Warburgh Ltd., 1971. Pp. 344
- Ross, J. Douglas. Published Manuscript:OUR ROSS FAMILY STORY, 1978. Pp. 246+
- Ross, Warren. Traditional oral family tale, August 2, 1976. Corroborated and extended by John Donald Ross and Alexander William Ross, all of Minto Township, August 1, 1977.
- SARNIA OBSERVER, Sarnia, Ontario, c. January 13, 1933. An article, "Pioneer Sarnia Woman Celebrates Ninetieth Birthday in Good Health", sent by Isobel M. Cruikshank on February 1, 1978.
- THE NEW STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF SCOTLAND Vol. XIV, 1845. "Parish of Killearnan" pp 63-72.
- Young, Isabel Mae (Cruickshank). Xeroxed copies of the "Family Register" from the Bible of Roderick Young and Isabella Ann Fraser, received during her visit on January 4th, 1978.